Sometimes in baseball, you've just gotta tip your cap to the other guy.
Navarro's Teddy Nowell came within two outs of tossing a no-hitter Wednesday against the Angelina College Roadrunners, giving up a meaningless single in the bottom of the seventh to finish with a one-hit shutout in the Bulldogs' 4-0 win in the opener.
In a brilliant outing, Nowell struck out just one ‘Runner all day, allowing his defense to work behind him while keeping AC hitters off-balance with a nasty screwball. Nowell walked a total of six batters; however, the lefty picked two of those off first immediately after issuing the free passes.
Nowell's magic apparently extended into the nightcap, where the Roadrunners managed six hits – but with three of those coming in one inning – in a 7-1 loss to give the Bulldogs (2-4 in Region XIV) a sweep and their first conference wins of the season.
"I tried telling our guys we're going to see games like Nowell pitched at this level," AC head coach Jeff Livin said. "The key is to be tough enough mentally to bounce back. For some reason, we just weren't tough enough after Nowell put us on our heels. We didn't adjust for the second game, and our hitting approach wasn't good at all."
Nowell's toughest inning came in the fifth, when he walked three batters in the frame; but he picked off his second runner of the game before inducing an infield popup from Greg Garcia to keep his no-no intact.
After a 1-2-3 sixth, Nowell retired the first AC hitter in the seventh before giving up a solid single to Ryan Gunhouse to break up his no-hit bid. Once again, Nowell avoided damage, getting David Pfuntner to line hard to short – hard enough to double off Gunhouse at first to end the game.
Navarro's runs came on an RBI sac fly from Wes Theiss in the fourth, an RBI double by Joey Fuda and another sacrifice fly from Christian Stringer in the eighth and a single by Theiss in the sixth.
Those runs sent AC starter Chase Greening, pitching on four days rest, to his third loss of the season. Greening allowed eight hits, five of those doubles, while striking out four.
In the nightcap, Navarro got a two-run homer from Rory Myers in the second, RBI doubles from Myers and Zach Voight in the third – an inning in which the ‘Runners committed two errors to give up two unearned runs – and an RBI single by Fuda in the sixth. Navarro's Tyler Carter threw eight innings in the 7-1 win, while John Tatum took the loss for AC.
AC's lone run of the day came on an RBI single from Rick Hepworth, who drove in Kyler Crenshaw in the second inning.
"We have to remind ourselves, fighting our way to the conference tournament is a marathon, not a sprint," Livin said. "We have to get tougher mentally and learn how to bounce back if we want to win the way we're capable of winning."
The Roadrunners (15-17, 3-3) will travel to Mt. Pleasant on Saturday to take on Northeast Texas. Game time for the opener is 1 p.m.
Lady Roadrunners Swept in Galveston
The Angelina College Lady Roadrunners knew they'd have a tough time with the conference's best team, especially when playing that team on the road.
Galveston's Whitecaps then showed why they're leading Region XIV in the standings, sweeping the Lady ‘Runners 1-0 and 3-1 in Galveston.
AC faces another tough road trip on Friday, traveling to Houston to take on San Jacinto. The opener in that doubleheader will start at 4 p.m.